Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Al Capone Does My Homework

Al Capone Does My Homework (Alcatraz, book three)
By Gennifer Choldenko
Published 2013 by Dial

Moose Flanagan's life has always been a bit left of normal, but it's only gotten more unusual since his family moved to Alcatraz. Now, Moose's dad has been promoted, leaving Moose to worry about the point system the cons have in place - and how many points hurting his dad might be worth. Unfortunately, that's only the beginning of Moose's worries, after a fire breaks out at his house and his autistic sister, Natalie, is blamed. With the help of his friends, Moose is determined to prove his sister's innocence and protect his dad.

After listening to books one and two earlier this year, I was happy to hear book three would be released at the end of the summer. I also was lucky enough to snag an ARC at TLA, so I didn't have to wait to read it. I was happy to return to Alcatraz and these characters - I really like the endearing and authentic way Choldenko has written the kids in this book and it made it very easy to jump right back in with them this time around. I think this might be my favorite of the three - I really liked the plot that Choldenko develops in this installment. Moose is almost a man and he seems to feel the weight of the world on his shoulders, something that I think a surprising number of kids might relate to. Even though Moose is not truly responsible for ensuring his entire family's well-being, he feels like he is - and that's enough. I liked Moose enlisting the help of his friends to figure out how the fire happened, and it was pretty heartbreaking to read how much Moose blamed himself for it. I also liked the storyline with Piper here - she's been a character I love to dislike throughout the series, so I was especially interested in seeing what would happen with her here. I think Choldenko did a great job with her, and to me, it felt like everything was wrapped up rather nicely here. I expect this will be our last visit to Alcatraz, but I think these books are great for showing kids how interesting and fun historical fiction can be, and how universal being a kid is.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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